Conqueror: To overcome or surmount by physical, mental, or moral force
Value: A principle, standard, or quality considered worthwhile or desirable
One thing the U.S. business world knows is competition.
“I need to outperform so-and-so to get the promotion.”
“If we have more revenues, then we can invest more into XX product, which will blow away the competition.”
“If I just work harder and faster than everyone else, then my business will become a success.”
Sound familiar? While having competition, goals and a strong to desire to come out on top is great, it’s how we look at competition that might be sending us down the wrong path.
Paul Graham, a creator of the startup incubator YCombinator recently touched on this subject when discussing ways to develop a business idea. He wrote (I’ve bolded for emphasis):
“Even if you find someone else working on the same thing, you’re probably not too late. It’s exceptionally rare for startups to be killed by competitors—so rare that you can almost discount the possibility. So unless you discover a competitor with the sort of lock-in that would prevent users from choosing you, don’t discard the idea.”
So why, then, do we focus so much on competition?
It’s interesting because we view competition as this me versus you dynamic. I’m better than that company because of X, Y and Z. And while this competition against another can drive the short-term ambition, motivation or whatever, there’s a serious problem when looking for long-term happiness and growth. First, let’s discuss growth.
When looking for ways to grow, while competing against another, it will narrow your view for potential possibilities. That’s great for launching the business, as your focus becomes a strength while you take on the initial steps to turn a profit. Once you have, though, you will need to grow through different means. But you’re so focused on what your competitor has done, is doing or might do, that you miss out on opportunities that the competitor may never have thought about. Your narrow viewpoint has hurt your ability to see the larger competitive space. That’s a growth hindrance.
Happiness is often cited as the number one goal in life, even for those running a business. But competition has shown to create isolation from the community. Having a strong community bond is one of the most important factors in ensuring a happy lifestyle. That means if you’re competing for a job with a co-worker, then that creates distrust and breaks the community bond long-term, leading to a less happy office. So you may win at the expense of another, but you haven’t accomplished your number one goal in life: happiness.
Instead, what if we took the competition idea, and turned it around. Instead of competing against another, you’re competing against something in your world that needs changed. You want to improve the water shortage, or increase the ability for people to use bicycles or improve on an investing strategy, then it becomes something you’re trying to conquer instead of a competition against another. And when you succeed, it makes you a World Conqueror. Not in the sense of Alexander or Genghis Khan, but in solving a problem that helps the world in which you work in.
But there’s more to it. By attempting to conquer something you think needs changed in your world, you’ve developed a cause and higher purpose for yourself and your business. This creates a sustainable and healthy way to motivate yourself because you’ve grown community around your competition. And if what you’ve chosen to conquer is for the greater good of your world, then you have added value. Once you add value, then the business will have success because you’re no longer needing to sell or convince someone to pay for your services, but instead showing them why it’s a great way to participate in the cause. They will do so if they share the same beliefs as you. And your job will be more to persuade them that your beliefs are just and beneficial. It’s a subtle change, but a powerful one.
And because of my belief in this, you will be seeing the blog change over the next few weeks and months as I transition from focusing on the subjects of social media, PR, and content strategy, to honing in on the theme of Conquering Your World. Don’t worry though, social media, PR and content strategy all have an important place in world conquering. They’re great tools to do so.
In the meantime, let me know how your business conquers your world, adding value for your customers.